Talk Back Live Transcripts: The War on Drugs: Winnable Battle or Lost Cause?

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Feb 28, 2001.

  1. Aired February 27, 2001 - 3:00 p.m. ET
    Source: CNN

    BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST: Do drug addicts like Robert Downey, Jr. belong in a hospital or in prison?
    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    BARRY MCCAFFREY, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DRUG POLICY: We're still looking at a U.S. society in which 6 percent of us last month using illegal drugs.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BATTISTA: The U.S. spends more than $19 billion a year fighting the war on drugs trying to keep them out of this country. And yet...

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    ERIC STERLING, POLICY ANALYST: The availability of drugs for teenagers has never been easier. The prices of drugs on the street are as low as ever. The purity is greater than ever. We're failing.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BATTISTA: President Bush says the problem is about demand. Americans consume a quarter of the world's illegal drug production, and according to some estimates, most of those brought to justice are low-level street dealers.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not going to get the kingpins because they've got the money and they walk. For some reason, they just -- they never get into trouble.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BATTISTA: Critics suggest it's been a war waged against U.S. citizens, sick citizens who need medical help, citizens forced to forfeit property without due process.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody has a difference of opinion whether it's a winnable war. But it's a war we can't stop fighting.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BATTISTA: The question is: Are we fighting it on the wrong front?

    Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. Street drugs are getting cheaper while the war on drugs needs constant injections of U.S. tax dollars. What's wrong with this picture?

    Colombian President Andres Pastrana has been meeting with President Bush today. He wants more money for social programs and police. The U.S. already provides $1.3 billion for military assistance in Colombia's attempt to plow under its lucrative narcotics trade.

    Here to talk about the war on drugs today with us is Nick Navarro, former narcotics agent and onetime sheriff of Broward County, Florida. He is currently head of the Novarro Group, a private security firm.

    Also with us Mike Gray, author of "Drug Crazy, How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out." He is chairman of a reform organization called Common Sense for Drug Policy.

    Welcome to both of you.

    MIKE GRAY, AUTHOR, "DRUG CRAZY": Thank you.

    NICK NOVARRO, FORMER FEDERAL NARCOTICS AGENT: Thank you.

    BATTISTA: Mike, let me start with you. Why are we not winning this war?

    GRAY: Well, it's unwinnable. I mean, we have heard in -- I'm sorry, you're getting a feedback here on the sound. We're -- we learned this lesson once before during alcohol prohibition. And prohibition simply doesn't work. What it will do is create violent criminals but it will not stop the drug trade. And that's what we're witnessing.

    BATTISTA: Nick -- we'll fix that problem for you, Mike so it won't be so irritating.

    GRAY: Thank you.

    BATTISTA: Nick, in the meantime, where is all of this money going?

    NOVARRO: Well, right now, I think most of the budget has been utilized on the eradication, interdiction and enforcement, although a lot of money has been given out lately to education and rehabilitation. We need to enforce all those five areas if we are going to continue in this war that we've been fighting for so long right now.

    BATTISTA: You think that we should be sending more money into Colombia? NOVARRO: Well, again, you know, this has been something that every year, the budgets have been increasing. So have been the drug trade. When I started as a federal narcotics agent, the budget that we were working with, it was less than $5 million a year, and there was only 125 agents for the entire world to work the narcotic trade that we were fighting in those days. Times have changed. The gluttony has grown. More and more people are addicted. More new substances are in the market. So this war is a never-ending war, and we must continue to fight it. I know that we may not win. I'm already retired. I spent my whole life fighting it, but we must continue to fight it. We cannot give it up.

    BATTISTA: Mike, at the same time, if we keep pouring money into Colombia, how do we avoid -- I mean, if we give them money to use for their military forces to fight this drug war, doesn't that pull the United States into their longstanding political armed conflict down there? How do we avoid that?

    GRAY: Absolutely, Bobbie. We're -- people have made the remark that they're afraid we're going to get into another Vietnam down there. It's not going to be another Vietnam. It's going to be another El Salvador. And we've just seen evidence of that this past week. The fire fight broke out and a bunch of U.S. citizens were shot down in a Huey helicopter. And a gunship came in to rescue them, and all of the people involved were private employees hired by the Dime Corp (ph) of Reston, Virginia.

    In other words, we will not see the 82nd Airborne going into Colombia. We will see former 82nd Airborne soldiers, former special forces, former CIA agents, et cetera, as we did in Central America during the Reagan administration. So, basically, as they admit, they are outsourcing this war to private contractors, the reason being we can't afford to take military casualties. We've already had American military personnel killed in Colombia, and if the word gets out like in Vietnam that we're losing a few people down there every week, that's not going to fly with the American people. So that's why they use these contract employees. And when they get killed, the only people who know about it are their families.

    BATTISTA: You spent 10 days last year with General McCaffrey down in Colombia, our former drug tsar. Is this what you saw going on there? What were your observations?

    GRAY: Well, I talked to a number of government officials down there and they say this $1.3 billion that McCaffrey succeeded in sending to Colombia was simply pouring gasoline on the fire. There's no question we could help Colombia if we could something about the incredible poverty. But the problem is three percent of the people in Colombia own 70 percent of the useful land. And so the poverty down there is not something we're going to cure. That's something that Colombians themselves have got to straighten out. But we're not going to cure that problem by sending them gun ships.

    BATTISTA: Nick, on the other -- you know, what is the incentive for the folks in Colombia to stop producing what is clearly a high cash crop? NOVARRO: There is no other incentive but the fact that they are making a lot of money on it and that's all that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). My problem with this situation is that, to be honest with you, the people are being killed in Colombia, they don't bother me. If they are soldiers of fortune, let them do whatever they have to do. And if they get hurt from it, OK.

    My concern has always been all of the casualties that we're suffering in this country. Americans are the ones who are really dying because of the drug trade. And really, casualties in a war should be on both sides, but the reality is that only Americans are the ones who are suffering throughout this whole entire problem that we have been suffering for the last so many years.

    BATTISTA: So you're saying the problem is more demand oriented. We should be spending more and doing more about the demand?

    NOVARRO: There is a big gluttony for drugs in this country, not only for cocaine and heroin and marijuana but also for other synthetic drugs. And everything right now is conducive to really creating a bad environment for this youth that is coming right now in this country. Look at this new drugs that are coming into the market. They don't have anything to do with Colombia or any other country. They are manufactured right here in our land. They are distributed here and they once were benefit from the top to the bottom of nothing but Americans. We are hurting ourselves. We are the enemy. And all we have to do is look in the mirror and there we are.

    BATTISTA: Well, let me ask you this about your personal experience since you fought on the front lines of this thing as a former agent. Do you guys look at every person that's involved in the drug war equally, I mean, from the user to the dealer to the supplier?

    NOVARRO: Not necessarily, no. We look at the user as a person who has been the victim of the drug dealers. And that person needs assistance, needs help. I believe in rehabilitation. Now most of those who are also engaged in this type of war, the soldiers that are in the trenches realize that the users, the addicts, they need to be rehabilitated. But what I have ever heard all my life from parents coming to me is this: "Tell me how you are going to prevent my child from becoming an addict. Don't tell me how you are going to rehabilitate him. I don't want my child to become an addict, first of all." And this is what this also all these folks were engaged in the enforcement, the eradication and the interdiction are trying to do, prevent the drugs from getting to those kids in our streets.

    BATTISTA: Mike, how do you do that?

    GRAY: Well, clearly, the present policies have not worked. As Nick just said, this is an unwinnable war. He admits that. He came from the front lines. He says we're probably not going to win this thing but we've got to keep fighting it from now on. I say any time you're in a war that you admit you're not winning, it's time to take a look at how you're fighting it. We can fight this much more sensibly.

    The RAND Corporation did a study and they showed that treatment and education in this country is seven times more effective than interdiction in Colombia. So every dollar you spend in this country is worth $7 overseas trying to stop the drugs at the source. These people down there in Colombia are starving to death, and so it's not surprising that they would go for coca. The government has forced them off of their land and out in to the jungles. There's only one profitable crop you can grow there. You can't grow mangoes because how are you going to get them to market? Cocaine, on the other hand, is a bush that lasts for 40 years. You can harvest the crop three times a year. As a farmer-friendly shrub, about the only thing that's going to beat coca plants is a money tree. So we're not going to stop this in Colombia, but we can lose a lot of lives and kill a lot of people. But as Nick says, we're not going to win this war. We can this war here in the United States with treatment and education.

    BATTISTA: Let me get to a couple of comments from the audience here. Doug in Florida e-mails us: "Sever relations with countries that send drugs to the U.S. until they fight the drug lords that produce this stuff. When they straighten out their own country, then let them back in."

    Well, other than a lot of the implications and repercussions involved in that theory, if you just shut it down in one country, isn't it likely that it'll start being produced again in some other country?

    GRAY: Absolutely. I mean, as Nick will tell you, when you succeed in Colombia, you drive it over the border into Peru. The cocaine trade now covers an area in northern South America the size of the continental United States. Most of it is trackless jungles with rivers and streams that white people have never even seen. And to imagine that we're going to go down there in this trackless jungle with a bunch of helicopters and stop this is crazy.

    BATTISTA: I've got to take a quick break here. We'll continue with our discussion when we come back. The question: Do you think the U.S. will ever legalize drugs? Take the TALKBACK LIVE online viewer vote at cnn.com/talkback. AOL keyword: CNN. We'll continue right after the break.

    In 1986, Congress began requiring countries known for drug production or trafficking to pass a drug certification each year showing they were making adequate efforts to fight narcotics. Countries failing this certification can face the loss of all economic assistance except for anti-drug efforts and humanitarian aid.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    BATTISTA: Help me get into the legalization question since we threw that to the break and that's our poll question today. The legalization of drugs, there seems to be a little bit of a momentum towards that idea, certainly more than in the past.

    Nick is that an option?

    NOVARRO: Not in my estimation, Bobbie. I cannot agree with legalizing drugs. This is something that to me doesn't make any sense. How would I accept that all this substances and how are we going to determine which substances can be legalized and which ones can be not? Are we going to take the entire spectrum and make them all available to our kids in this day and age when the gluttony for drugs is so immense in this country? What we need to do is to continue to prevent those drugs from falling in their hands. Regardless of how we do it, I don't care anymore if it has to be through interdiction, if it has to be through education, it has to be -- but I don't like to even get to the rehabilitation because we have no addicts, we don't have to be rehabilitate anyone. But if we make it available to all those children out there in the streets right now who are looking for it and are trying to experiment with it, then we are going to create a whole new society of zombies and drug users. And I don't agree with that at all. What we need to do is to continue to fight.

    BATTISTA: Mike, how -- practically speaking, how would you do that if drugs were legalized?

    GRAY: Well, Nick just laid out a very desirable goal and way to achieve it. Unfortunately, we've been on that path now for 80 years and it hasn't worked. Not only has it not worked, it has made everything worse. When we began this experiment, drugs used to be legal. In other words, if you had an addiction problem before 1914, you would go to your doctor, he would write you a prescription. Then you'd go to the drugstore, you'd get the drugs and then you would go to work. And most all drug users prior to 1914 were taxpaying, productive citizens with a medical problem. Suddenly we pass this law and we turn them into criminals de facto. And now we've got five times the number of addicts per thousand that we had when we began this experiment. So it's time for us to take a look at this money problem. Until we get the money out of this equation, we aren't going to be able to address treatment or prevention or education or anything else because we're going to be fighting these street battles, which are much more glamorous but counterproductive.

    BATTISTA: Let me go to the audience on this one, see how they feel about it. Walter, what do you think?

    WALTER: We have to take the profit margin out of the sale of drugs. So many people getting rich even growing marijuana in their homes. And if we took the profit margin away from them, they wouldn't be doing this. The kids come up selling drugs. When they get 10 years old, they go out into the streets selling drugs. And people wouldn't be bringing these boats from these various countries trying to get into the United States because it wouldn't be profitable for them to do that.

    BATTISTA: Deandra, you disagree.

    DEANDRA: Yes. I disagree strongly. I think drugs should not be legalized. You have people who are part (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on marijuana that are unproductive and do nothing. They go to work whenever they can, whenever they want to, and they sit around all day long doing nothing. We shouldn't legalize any drug. If we do, we may as well legalize auto theft or shoplifting. I mean, we are encouraging people to do be unproductive in society. BATTISTA: Are we making the assumption here, Mike, that if you legalize drugs, more people are going to use them?

    GRAY: Absolutely. That assumption is totally incorrect. It's not supported by the facts. For example, the Swiss did an experiment just over the last four years where they simply gave heroin to everybody that -- I mean, to a cohort of a thousand addicts, and they located a thousand addicts who were incorrigible, had been through treatment several times and couldn't stop. They put them into a program where they simply gave them the drugs that they wanted. And at the end of the first year, 60 percent of these people -- the crime rate had dropped by 60 percent among this cohort, half the unemployed had found jobs, a third of the people on welfare had become self supporting. The general health of the whole group improved dramatically. But the important thing is, Bobbie, that 83 of these people quit all together in favor of abstinence. Now that's a better cure rate than the force treatment programs we have here in the United States.

    BATTISTA: Any idea why -- go ahead, Nick.

    NOVARRO: I'm sorry to disagree with his statement, but in England, back in the '70s I think it was, there was an experiment done, and they were dispensing heroin to heroin addicts all over London. And what happened was that they were saying that they had a habit that it was larger than what they were really consuming, and they were passing the drug and selling it to their friends and getting their friends addicted, also. So they would come in and they'd get a larger dose than what they would be using and they were becoming drug dealers themselves. So they had to stop that program in a very quick fashion because they were creating more addicts than what they had before. And it was done by this mentality of addicts that they can make some money with it so they were doing it. So, you know, all those things when you talk about legalization, I don't care what country has done any experiments on it, it does not work. They had -- you remember the Chinese and the opium (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They clean them out. They were not enforcing anything at the time, but they had to go out and really get tough on it and they cleaned them out because it was creating a society of zombies. That's what it is.

    BATTISTA: Jeffrey in the audience.

    JEFFREY: In talking about legalizing drugs, there will still be users. Obviously, some of the money won't be there to be made anymore, but money will still be able to be made. So it's going to still cost money to make -- to buy drugs, so the money will still be there. Somebody will still be interested in running the drug business.

    BATTISTA: Jake in New York on the phone with us -- Jake.

    CALLER: Yeah, I just wanted to know, if we're spending billions and billions of dollars a year on fighting this war on drugs, if we legalized it and put a tax on it, a hefty tax, what about the billions and billions of dollars of revenue that would be generated for education programs or for detox centers or for anything else that would work? And the issue about getting drugs to kids if we legalized the drugs, with you know, every single child on the street corner. That's the same issue with cigarettes then, that if you want to try and make, you know, real laws to enforce it, then no one under 18 or 21 can get it, then you have to try and do that. You just can't assume that every child will be able to get their hands on heroin if they want to. Thanks.

    BATTISTA: All right, Jake, thanks.

    Nick, you want to react to that or Mike?

    NOVARRO: Yeah, we used to have...

    GRAY: I would say this, Bobbie. About -- Nick is mistaken in his assessment of the situation in England. They still have heroin maintenance in England. I visited a heroin maintenance clinic in Liverpool. It was enormously successful. And the interesting thing about that was while this clinic was in operation, there were no street dealers because the serious addicts, 450 of them, had been gathered into this program under medical supervision, and they were being given their drugs under medical supervision, and a lot of them were successful in kicking where they had not been before.

    But the interesting thing is that their kids in the neighborhood did not have access to drugs because the dealers were off the street. There's no market if you get the serious users out of the way.

    BATTISTA: Nick?

    NOVARRO: The dealers would always be there. The users are always going to be there. And they do have a problem in England right now that it hasn't stopped. Let me go back to the original argument. When I was treasury agent before the Department of Drugs was transferred over to Justice, we had a taxation on marijuana. Every time that we arrested someone, there was a tax imposed on every ounce of marijuana that we were confiscating from this individual. However, since we were putting them in jail and they had already taken their profits and put in someplace where we couldn't find them, it was an impossible ending for the IRS to enforce those laws. They know how to hide the money. They've laundered the money. And you are not going to be able to really get any revenues from taxing this illicit drugs. It's impossible.

    BATTISTA: Let me ask you a little bit more about the issue of education and prevention. You both agree that that's clearly one of the better weapons that we have in this war. But the problem there is: How do you win that battle? Like the movie, "Traffic," for example, which is very realistic as I understand. I've seen the movie. I think it's fabulous, but it is a realistic portrayal about the futility of the drug war. You know, this is reaching a lot of people. Parents are rushing home to talk to their kids about drugs, conversations they probably should have had a long time ago. But the point is: What works? You know what I mean? Is it the "Just say no" slogans or is it movies like that? What works in the prevention?

    GRAY: What works, Bobbie -- "Just say no" does not work, and we've proven that conclusively. The Dutch don't do it this way. The Dutch give their kids serious medical information. The last time we talked, it was right after General McCaffrey had introduced his "Just say no" campaign, the new ads with the skillet and the egg and all that sort of thing. And I said at the time this is symbolism, it's not information. And kids laugh at that stuff. Kids need serious information about what these drugs can do and what they can't do. Scare tactics are even counterproductive because kids love to take chances.

    NOVARRO: You know, in my opinion, if I may, the problem that we have today is more of a social problem, not just a problem that can be resolved through programs. The problem is sometimes at home. Parents have to be more careful and observe their children closer, not abandon the kids, not just be involved in some other part of society and some other endeavors and forget that those children need attention. We are a society today that is really, to be honest, is neglecting these children. And we need to pay more attention to our kids. That's the most precious gift that God has given us, and we must pay attention to them.

    BATTISTA: We'll be back in just a moment.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    ANNOUNCER: In 1999, the U.S. spent nearly $2 billion for drug prevention programs and about $8.5 billion in prosecuting and punishing drug offenders.

    BATTISTA: Welcome back. Scott in California e-mails us: "Drugs destroy lives. We need to fight harder to get rid of drugs including harsher penalties for users and dealers." Gary in California answers that with, "If we can't keep drugs out of our prisons, how can we expect to keep drugs out of our country?"

    Interestingly enough, we just got this story that broke off the wire since we're talking about this subject today. Federal agents apparently have discovered a tunnel near the Nogales, Arizona border with Mexico containing millions of dollars worth of cocaine. The customs service says that this 500-foot-long tunnel had 198 bricks of cocaine with a street value of about $6.5 million. This is the sixth time since 1995 that authorities have discovered a tunnel used to smuggle drugs underneath this international border.

    Mike and Nick, the bottom line is that when they made a bust like that, it sounds good, but that's not really very much cocaine, is it?

    NOVARRO: Not really.

    GRAY: It's peanuts.

    NOVARRO: It's almost nothing compared to what it comes in. To satisfy the gluttony that exists in this country, when it comes to those substances, what we are interdicting is only a very small percentage. And I don't believe that we have ever been able to give you a true number of how much we are interdicting. It's impossible. We don't know how much is coming in. GRAY: That's very true. I talked to customs agents. They said that they interdict five percent. And I said, "How do you know that?" And he said, "We don't know that. That's just what we say."

    BATTISTA: On the phone with us now is New Mexico's governor, Gary Johnson.

    Governor, thank you for taking the time.

    GOV. GARY JOHNSON (R), NEW MEXICO: Absolutely.

    BATTISTA: You came under some criticism about a year ago when you first talked about legalizing drugs or at least making some changes in the laws in your state. And I know you've introduced a number of proposals to your legislature aimed at decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana or cutting the charges against first-time users and dealers. How is that going?

    JOHNSON: Well, I think it's going -- I think it's going really well. I think that awareness has gone way up. And if I may, fundamentally, if you're smoking marijuana in the confines of your own home doing no harm to anybody arguably other than yourself, fundamentally, do you belong in jail for that? Is that a criminal offense? And in my opinion, no. If I could draw an analogy to alcohol, you're having a drink in a bar. That's acceptable behavior. But you leave the bar, you get in your car, you drive your car, you have now passed over the line to actually criminal behavior.

    Back to drinking. You drink, you're in the bar, you go out and you assault somebody in a parking lot or you're involved in property crime because you're drunk. That is criminal and should be prosecuted. I think that we should draw those same lines of distinction when it comes to drugs. And that is you do drugs and you do harm to somebody else, you get in a car, you drive, that should be criminal, should always be criminal.

    Kids doing drugs, that's never going to be legal or acceptable. Selling drugs to kids, that's never going to be acceptable or legal. But what we're doing right now basically is arresting an incarcerating this country over behavior that is very similar to prohibition in the '30s. I mean, we've gone through this before and it doesn't work. Eight million Americans have done illegal drugs. Do we really believe that we're going to arrest and incarcerate the entire country?

    And Bobbie, one last thing and I'll stop. A question for you. You probably know the answer. How many people in this country are arrested every year on drug-related crime? I'm asking you a question. You're not going to fail if you get the wrong answer, but what's your guess?

    BATTISTA: Oh, boy, that is putting me on the spot. I really would have on idea, but it's a lot.

    JOHNSON: Make a stab at it. It is a lot but make a stab at it.

    BATTISTA: Hundreds of thousands, definitely -- millions? JOHNSON: You know what? I think hundreds of thousands is an intelligent guess. The answer is 1.6 million people a year. When you subtract adolescents or I should say pre-adolescents out of that group, we're talking about one out of every 200 people in this country getting arrested every single year. This is insanity.

    BATTISTA: Governor, can you stay with us a little longer?

    JOHNSON: Yeah, yeah.

    BATTISTA: OK, great, I've got to take a...

    NOVARRO: May I say something to the governor.

    BATTISTA: Nick, I want to come back and take your reaction but I've got to go to a commercial. I'm pushing it here. We'll be back in just a second.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    BATTISTA: Nick Novarro, you wanted to react to Governor Johnson.

    NOVARRO: Yes, ma'am. What the governor was saying about consuming drug altering minds, if any mind altering drugs are consumed at home, you don't have to get in the car to go out and hurt somebody. Spouse abuse, children abuse takes place at home, and sometimes it's derived from the abuse of those substances, the legal and the illegal ones.

    Alcohol is our legal drug that is one of the most devastating drugs that we have in this country. And it has been said that during prohibition, it was bad because we were prohibited from using it and there was a lot of abuse to it. The abuse has continued. We have made it legal, we are taxing it, but it has not created a better environment in this country. It has not made us better people. At home, individuals abuse their spouse and their children under the influence of those mind altering drugs.

    BATTISTA: I'm sorry, I do have to interrupt here briefly, hopefully, but White House press secretary Ari Fleischer is getting ready to talk to reporters presumably about President Bush's address to Congress tonight. So we'll listen in here.

    (COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)

    BATTISTA: White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer fielding questions from reporters today at his daily briefing about the president's upcoming address tonight to a joint session of Congress that will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern -- well, CNN's coverage, rather, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. And Mr. Bush's speech goes at 8:00, I think, isn't it? 8:00 Eastern time.

    Mike and Nick, I know you're still there. I thought it was interesting that several questions came up during that briefing about the president's meeting with the Colombian president today. I'm not saying this was the case necessarily today, but it's always interesting to note how quickly those questions are sort of blown off, if you will. This is not a subject, this war on drugs, that politicians like to venture into, you know, at the cost of appearing soft on drugs or whatever. Is it a no-win situation for them or...

    GRAY: That's where I think Governor Gary Johnson is heroic. Here is a conservative Republican who's come out in favor of total reexamination of our drug policies from top to bottom, which, of course, most governors are terrified of getting involved in, but Governor Johnson will tell you in private, as he has told me, that a number of governors agree with him. It's just they're afraid to say so in public because they're afraid of what we, the voters, will do to them. The voters have to communicate that we are tired of this drug war and we're interested in having an examination of the policies based on science and medicine and expert witnesses. And that's what Governor Johnson has done. He called together a blue-ribbon commission; they looked into this and they came up with a bunch of recommendations which he is now trying to get enacted into law in New Mexico. Among them, general decriminalization of marijuana as a first step.

    BATTISTA: Governor Johnson is back on the phone with us.

    And governor, we were just talking about the reluctancy of politicians to get involved in the war on drugs and to make public statements like you have about their thoughts on it.

    JOHNSON: Yeah, I notice that Nick, just before you had to leave to go to the press conference, talked about domestic abuse, you know, and that drugs oftentimes may cause this domestic abuse. I think it's important to point out that that's always going to be criminal. That's what we ought to focus on. But so much of the problem today has to do with prohibition. The fact that marijuana today sells for more than gold -- these drugs, take heroin, for example, an aspirin- sized dose of heroin today may make four heroin addicts high tomorrow. Because there's a bust and there's a new source of heroin, that same aspirin-sized dose of heroin today might kill four heroin addicts tomorrow. So the point is that if we'll just look at the problem, so much of the problem, a majority of the problem is the prohibition against drugs, not the actual drugs themselves. And that is not for a second to condone drug use.

    I'm somebody who has not had a drink of alcohol for 13 years. And anybody that's listening, I want to make a pledge here. Don't drink alcohol. It's a handicap. It's an incredible handicap. And until you stop, do you realize that? But not for a second do I believe that that should be criminal activity, of course, unless you're harming somebody else. And yet at one point in this country's history, alcohol was a crime.

    BATTISTA: As we're -- go ahead, Nick. I just want to say that as we're talking here, we're going to look at some pictures of that tunnel today that was discovered by federal drug agents between Arizona and New Mexico, this 500-foot-long tunnel where they found a fair amount of cocaine, shall we say. But anyway, go ahead, I'm sorry. NOVARRO: Yeah, this is the second tunnel we have found linking Mexico to the United States for drug trafficking. However, what I was trying to say, governor, is that really, prohibition on alcohol stopped 70 years ago. And has things gotten any better by decriminalizing it and making it available to everyone and taxing it? I don't think it has. We still have the problems that we had and nothing has gotten any better. So by decriminalizing drugs, are we going to create a better society? Are we going to be better people because we have accessibility to drugs? I don't believe so. I think that this is not going to help.

    BATTISTA: We are completely out of time. Nick Novarro, Mike Gray, Governor Gary Johnson, thank you all very much for joining us. Tomorrow, we'll talk about a tax cut. Join us then.

    THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

    Complete Title: Talk Back Live Transcripts: The War on Drugs: Winnable Battle or Lost Cause?

    Source: CNN (US Web)
    Published: February 27, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Cable News Network, Inc.
    Contact: cnn.feedback@cnn.com
    Forum: http://community.cnn.com/
    Website http://www.cnn.com/
    Feedback: http://cnn.com/feedback/

    CNN Talk Back Live Transcripts http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/tl.html
     
  2. Excellent post as always SJ............
    I'll be responding to CNN FEEDBACK for sure !
    Sorry I have not been posting as much as usual lately............Flu bug has got me by the balls.Should be back in form within the week.
    Again great info !
    roach
     
  3. It all comes back to a common belief, and one I've had for years... The U.S. Government wants to ban and destroy all the drugs coming into the country and ones that all the citizens have so they can start manufacturing and producing them in their own labs and on their own property so they get all the profit from the sales.
     
  4. Sorry to be a dick, but you dug up a thread from 8 years ago, and if they wanted the profit they could just legalize the drugs.
     

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